On the shore of the Mediterranean Sea in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, the stunning Bibliotheca Alexandrina sits like a rising sun on the site of the original, magnificent Library of Alexandria– the largest in the ancient world and the birthplace of scientific method.

Housing priceless manuscripts and scrolls, and a vast collection of books and artefacts, the new Bibliotheca is vast. The library has space for eight million books, with the main reading room covering 70,000 m² on eleven cascading levels. The complex also houses a conference centre, specialized libraries for the blind, for young people, and for children. There are three museums, four art galleries, a planetarium, and a manuscript restoration laboratory.

Completed in 2002, the Bibliotheca, which has a fabulous 160m diameter glass roof, was considered the most prestigious and striking construction project in the region at the time. And, as the world’s most trusted manufacturer of smoke and fire protection barriers, BLE was asked to supply part of the smoke management system.

Engineers from BLE worked alongside architects and building contractors to design, manufacture and fit automatic smoke curtains in the cavernous building. These curtains created three separate smoke zones all linked to the central fire system, ensuring maximum protection for the treasures of ancient Egypt.

Dave Millington, Divisional Director of BLE Smoke and Fire Curtains, worked on site during the construction of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. “The Bibliotheca was an incredible project to be involved with. For everyone who worked on the building, we felt as though we were creating a piece of history - it was an honour to help rebuild the most famous library in the world”.

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